Tribunal okays Nsima Ekere’s application for pre-hearing extension.

At the resumed pre-hearing on the suit at the governorship election petitions tribunal between Obong Nsima Ekere and Governor Udom Emmanuel, the petitioner, Ekere, was granted time extension to tender documents sought from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Nsima Ekere, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is challenging the conduct of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the Akwa Ibom State which Governor Udom Emmanuel was announced as winner by INEC.

Counsel to Ekere, J. S. Okutepa, SAN, had decried what he termed as challenges in getting documents from INEC which the petitioner seeks to use in pursuance of the case.

Okutekpa said the application for extension of pre-hearing was in the best interest of the justice, adding that the petitioner will thereafter present a report on the inspection of electoral materials at INEC office.

Assam Assam SAN, Counsel to Governor Udom Emmanuel (1st Respondent) opposed the petitioner’s application, saying time allocated for such prayers has elapsed.

He prayed the tribunal to dismiss it.

Counsel to the PDP, Uko Udo Esq. did not oppose the application, but noted that unavailability of the INEC documents are not enough grounds for continuation of pre-hearing.

He, however, urged the tribunal to exercise its discretion and rule on the matter.

Barr. Offiong Offiong, Counsel to INEC, opposed the application, saying the electoral commission should not be blamed by the petitioner because the request for the issuance must have been made late.

Reacting to Offiong, the 1st petitioner’s counsel, J. S. Okutepa, divulged that the said request was filed on April 15, 2019.

In his ruling, Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice A. M. Yakubu upheld the 1st petitioner’s application.

The Tribunal adjourned to June 21, 2019 for the hearing of the applications of the Respondents.

UYO, 16/6/2019.